Coast Salish artists invited to submit input for new BC Ferries vessel

BC Ferries photo.
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BC Ferries is asking for submissions from Coast Salish artists for the design of its new Salish Heron vessel. The First Peoples’ Cultural Council (FPCC) will facilitate the process with an adjudication committee comprised of Indigenous artists and BC Ferries’ representatives.

“It is an honour to partner with the FPCC and draw on their expertise in commissioning artwork through their network of talented Coast Salish artists,” said Brian Anderson, BC Ferries’ vice president of strategy and community engagement. “We look forward to reviewing the submissions and selecting designs that will celebrate the unique culture of Coast Salish peoples for years to come.”

From the first round of submissions, the committee will select several artists to be shortlisted and commissioned to propose specific design concepts. From these proposals, one artist’s designs will be selected for final refinement, adhering to BC Ferries’ specifications for fabrication and application.

“We are excited to be continuing this partnership with BC Ferries as they celebrate this new vessel by honouring living Coast Salish art forms that have survived through generations,” said Sarah Pocklington, FPCC arts program manager. 

“This project raises the profile of Coast Salish artists in B.C. and shares the beauty of their work with an international audience. Providing space for Indigenous artists is a positive step towards reconciliation and a visual acknowledgment of the thriving cultures of the First Peoples of these waters.”

Salish Heron is the fourth Salish-Class vessel to join BC Ferries’ fleet and will sail in the Southern Gulf Islands starting in 2022. Salish Orca, Salish Eagle, and Salish Raven entered service in 2017, sailing between Comox and Powell River and in the Southern Gulf Islands. BC Ferries held a public naming contest for the Salish-Class ferries in 2015.

Similar to the three previous Salish Class vessels, the primary design will be applied to the exterior of the vessel and elements of the design will also be used inside the vessel.

Working in partnership with the First Peoples’ Cultural Council to facilitate artwork commissioning, Darlene Gait from Esquimalt Nation was selected to design the artwork for the Salish Orca, John Marston from the Stz’uminus First Nation designed the artwork for the Salish Eagle, and the Salish Raven is adorned with an artistic design by Thomas Cannell from Musqueam.

The deadline for expressions of interest is May 10. Shortlisted artists will be contacted and invited to submit conceptual designs by June 14 and the final selection of artists will take place late June.

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